Some bands are born great, some have greatness thrust upon them, and some work really bloody hard for it. Plymouth based alt-rockers Radiosaurus fall from a running leap right into the latter.
Having earned their place firmly within the upper echelons of the Devon music scene, and after receiving consistent radio play from BBC Introducing Devon, the Radiosaurus boys are back after two already successful EP’s with this third riotous escapade, ‘Sleep Away The Sun’. To clear things up if you’re unaware of the prehistoric megalodon that are these four usually charming lads, on stage they growl, snarl, and generally make you fear slightly for your eardrums. They make a beautiful cacophony, riddled through and through with the sort of riffs that’d make your morally righteous Grandma quiver.
On Sleep Away The Sun though, they’ve somehow levelled up. Recorded at the increasingly infamous Middle Farm Studios, this third effort sees them take their best bits – their gothic tones, their dynamic range, pure energy, and the feeling that Dario Argento and Ennio Morricone lurked mumbling tips on darkness and melody in the shadows of the mixing room throughout – and add to it a level of consideration, commitment and pure theatre rarely seen in unsigned efforts. Frontman Alex Rogers, Captain of the good ship-Saurus, has clearly been working on his vocals, his distinctive voice now reaching gravel pits and plaintive heights never before conquered. Harmonies too are used more consistently and cleverly than on any previous tracks; take the EP’s opener, ‘Love Is A Poison’ for example. The sordidness of Alex’s lyrics as he smuts “if you can’t use your heart, girl open your legs, because love is a poison” is given shiver-inducing depth by the bass vocal layered oh-so-subtly beneath. Ditto ‘Something About You’, with its pulsating triad of snarling guitar, bass and drums in perfect cohesion provides the turf-trashing stallion on which Rodgers’ voice charges: he isn’t shouting, that thing male vocalists so often seem to confuse with louder singing; instead he employs sheer power and controls it like a husky maestro.
The third track (and probably their best-known number) ‘Where The Witches Hang’ is undoubtedly the EP’s big anthem. Twanging and subtle in its use of repetition, this is Radiosaurus at their sinister cult-horror finest. In all of their tracks there’s an element of shock-value in the lyrics, but the smarm of ‘Where The Witches Hang’s refrain “Ooh my my what is underneath? Is it hot? Is it wet? Does she scream?” is even more so: it isn’t for example, something you want to hear in a playground or mumbled in a dark alley. It’s creepy, weirdly sensual, and oddly captivating. If someone looking to do a remake of The Evil Dead doesn’t think to put this on their soundtrack, I’ll be having words.
That said, my favourite by a considerable way is Sleep Away The Sun’s closing track, the ingeniously plotted ‘Night Time People’. Of all the tracks on this EP and those that came before, it’s this which epitomises in three dramatic parts exactly what Radiosaurus can do. Open your programme and you will see that we begin with a slow, undulating repetition of the track’s almost singular lyrics “this is not for the day time people, this is drink to forget. This is not for the rich and lonely, this is the way that we move”. This is to be performed in lead vocalist Rogers’ best ‘Salad Fingers’ near-whisper over a simple guitar line, before Dan Bird’s creative drum fill drives the piece along into Act 2. Time for a quick swig of drink before stage directions insist that you stand and preferably jam out for the full-blown grunge out (repeated from Act 1, no excuse not to sing along), with all four band members essentially kicking the crap out of the teasing opening, clearly deciding that a good old cathartic thrashing is far wiser. Rogers howls, accompanied by a haunting falsetto in the background from Molly Gardner. Jaz Crossman on guitar ekes bluesy tones from his instrument as few others can, Karl Bigg provides the staunch bass backbone, and the nuanced percussion of Bird eases into Act 3. With this, Antimatador’s Jacob Kodicek takes the reigns with an almost unfathomably beautiful piano solo as Bird eases back, waltzing the epic along to a stunning, muted, natural finale. Curtains, applause all round, encore if you please boys. What an EP.